Spartan brings popular obstacle-course races to Snowmass for first time

Austin Colbert
Aspen Times
Spartan race will make its Snowmass debut this weekend as part of its Mountain Series.
Courtesy Bill Averette

Scenes from the movie “300” might come to mind when envisioning a Spartan race, but instead of battling an army of Persians the athletes get to battle themselves as they navigate over and through as many as 30 obstacles.

Created by Joe De Sena nearly a decade ago, the popular series of obstacle-course races will make its Snowmass debut this weekend as part of its Mountain Series.

“This year we had the opportunity to come out here, so we figured why not?” said Snowmass race director Ryan Durnan. “This is a different venue. We always like seeing new areas, especially mountain towns. They are pretty awesome.”

Snowmass has previously hosted similar events, such as Tough Mudder, but never Spartan until this year. Spartan has been hosting an event in the Colorado Rockies for a few years now, most recently having been in Breckenridge. This summer, Snowmass finally gets its turn.

Three different races will be offered this weekend. Saturday will be for the ultra and beast races, with the ultras being the longest at roughly 30 miles. Those races include about 3,700 feet of climbing around the Snowmass Ski Area. Durnan said it takes nine days, give or take, to set up the full course.

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Sunday will be for the sprint races, which are about 3 miles. There will be kids races available both days, as well.

Obstacles include all sorts of things, from spear throwing to crawling under barbed wire to climbing up and over walls.

“Spartan has developed a really great community,” Durnan said. “You have your exercise enthusiasts, and then you also have your groups of friends who just want to challenge themselves and run around.”

There will be a Spartan “festival” located in Snowmass Base Village Saturday and Sunday. This includes an open house beginning at 2 p.m. Friday that allows people to practice on some of the obstacles and pick the brains of certified coaches.

There will be plenty of free spectating available over the weekend, and there is still plenty of opportunities to volunteer.

“Spectating is highly encouraged,” Durnan said. “This is a unique venue where it’s actually open to the public because we can’t really contain it. So spectators are welcome to come out and root on, walk around and follow the course, hang out at some of the obstacles and cheer on the racers.”

Racing gets underway at 6 a.m. Saturday for the ultra athletes, with an awards presentation tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The ultra races can take anywhere from seven to 12 hours to complete. The beast races get underway at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with an awards presentation scheduled for 12:15 p.m. for the elite athletes.

Sunday’s sprint races begin at 7:30 a.m. with the elite awards presentation scheduled for 10:30 a.m. The festival area closes at 5 p.m. both days.

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